There has been no shortage of storylines regarding the Oklahoma Sooners’ opponent, and here to discuss it all is Andy Ketterson of Corn Nation. We cover the coaching search, Casey Thompson, things to do in Lincoln and much more regarding the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
1. I know Nebraska fans are glad to move on the the next coaching chapter, but what are the expectations for Mickey Joseph for the remainder of the season? To follow up, what do you think he would have to do in order to become “the guy”?
I’m very interested to see what he’s going to bring to the table as one of the top assistants out there who’s never had a D-1 head coaching job. I firmly believe one of the reasons he was hired was precisely for this reason if the rebuild got off to a start like this. The Associate Head Coach title was not an afterthought.
He’s well-known for an honest approach and demanding accountability as a position coach and seems to always earn the trust of his players even with a strong approach. He definitely brings a next-level amount of passion. Now how will that play out across the roster? And I can’t think of a better interim coach from a recruiting standpoint as that can get very messy with a mid-season firing.
That being said, while I believe he will get a fair shot in this audition, I also think that Alberts will be leaning more toward a coach with at least a few years of D1 experience. If Joseph can finish out 6-3 for a 7-5 finish or better after this start, however, he will force himself into serious consideration. (That being said, if Eric Chinander remains as DC, this ain’t happening)
2. Sticking with this topic, who do you think would be the ideal fit to lead the program in 2023 and beyond?
(Tommy Chong voice) Who do YOU think would be the ideal fit to lead the program in 2023 and beyond?? (JK)
If it’s me I’d be looking for a combination of a few of the following - 1) D1 head coaching experience; 2) a low-floor, high ceiling guy whose hire will generate excitement (a little trepidation is fine, we can’t go much lower); 3) a track record of fixing broken things; 4) proven recruiter - Nebraska requires actual recruiting ability (I always laugh at best recruiter lists loaded with guys from Georgia, Florida, Texas and Cali - stellar effort, fellas); 5) being such a great coach and horrible human being that I consider selling my soul to the devil for a potential return to glory (Had to add that since Urban’s in town this weekend)
So making this quick and picking from the list of favorites, my top 5, in no order yet, would be:
Mickey Joseph (if he sets the world on fire the rest of the season)
Deion Sanders (just to watch old Nebraska white people burst into flames)
Matt Campbell, Mark Stoops and Bill O’ Brien just don’t excite me. Urban would turn me into a blithering madman - cheering wins, while flipping him off every time his face appears on the tube and wondering if he’d have to fake amputate a leg when his next inevitable scandal forces yet another medical “retirement” in 4-6 years.
3. Offensively, Casey Thompson has had his ups and downs. How would you assess his play up to this point?
I have no problems with Casey yet. He had a fantastic game against Ga Southern but people were actually grouching about his 1st half performance in which he was 10-13. I offered a theory last year in which fans have basically taken a huge dump on every QB since Tommie Frazier including a Heisman winner and a Big 10 Offensive POTY. Two of Casey’s three picks literally hit the receivers in both hands. And while I love Adrian Martinez and bear him no ill will whatsoever, it is relieving to have a QB who is generally accurate on the short throws.
The offense, despite the line still adjusting to a new coach, is getting yards and points. Oklahoma will be a much stiffer test, but I still expect Casey to move us the fairly consistently.
4. On the ground, Anthony Grant has recorded triple digits in each of the first three games. What aspects of his skill set make him so effective?
So far, he is the complete package. He is incredibly shifty, gets through small holes quickly, has breakaway speed in the open field, but can also run hard and strong in traffic and turn 1-yard losses into 2-yard gains, an unappreciated skill.
As good as Casey has been, Grant is currently the jewel of the recruiting/transfer class. We’ll see if he keeps it going against the upgrade in competition.
5. On the other side, it’s been a struggle. What would you say has been the defense’s most glaring weakness thus far?
That’s very diplomatic of you. Comparably, the Titanic, the US Navy at Pearl Harbor and Joe Frazier against George Foreman suffered through some struggles as well.
Sweet mother, take your pick. Soft zones and padded coverages? Ochaun Mathis and Stephon Wynn’s playing time still being somewhat limited ? Thinking a 2-4-5 set will work? (Technically, we went to a 4-3 but the OLB’s from the previous year became DE/EDGE players, so I’m calling that two down lineman) Running the same set on every play?
Personally, I was stunned Chins wasn’t shown the door with Frost. If they trot out the same looks against the Sooners, it’s going to be a pad your stats day for Gabriel and company.
6. Sticking with the defense, which player should Oklahoma fans keep an eye on this Saturday?
Ugh, if forced, I will say Mathis as his snaps have been increasing each week. The TCU transfer is the best pass rusher but also 260 lbs so he has legit DE size whereas former OLB’s Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor go 240 & 225. If we can force OU to the air a little more, Mathis is the one who could possibly make things difficult for Gabriel.
Hey, a guy can dream.
7. Where should traveling OU fans eat and drink in Lincoln?
I’m not a great guy to ask preferring to tailgate when I head down, but I’ll go with old stand-by’s Barry’s downtown on 9th Street near the stadium (big game day party crowd) and Sandy’s on 14th & O St - get the Elk Creeks but do not slam them down repeatedly unless you want to wake up in the 3rd quarter. That OJ with Sprite splashed on top goes down too easy but masks a healthy amount of hard liquor.
For food, my diet tends to be the Fairbury Stadium Beef Franks - but if you’ve never had a stadium Runza, definitely flag one of those down as well. And if you wander through a few of the tailgate lots, sport your colors and profess your love of the NU/OU rivalry, there’s a good chance you’ll be full before you make it to the game. Fans (most anyway) tend to be notoriously friendly to visitors looking to respond in kind.
(If you were actually looking for a quality cuisine in Lincoln, humble apologies. I keep game day eats far too simple.)
8. What’s your favorite fact about the Nebraska football program?
Hold on, I’ll try to get the first 200 pages of that book back to you by Oct. 1.
Not to sound corny and yes, some can be insufferable, but for me it’s still the fans. Even with the “I can’t take it anymore” types having bailed, the Riley-weenies who still endure in corners (it’s ok to suck beyond all reason as long as you’re NICE), pockets from both previous groups who spend all waking moments slandering anyone and everyone on the interwebs (two years ago Frost was a drunken, cheating coke addict with a gambling problem if you lived on Twitter, etc), the youngsters who allegedly have no connection, etc, etc.
Jesus, people keep showing up and our sparsely populated state still pops solid TV ratings for our games. Memorial Stadium was still packed to the gills for Georgia Southern and the student section appears to be full. The Frost replacement coaching search is national news despite it being for a team which hasn’t had a winning record in 5 SEASONS.
We’re actually still relevant and it’s sure not because of the quality product we’ve been putting on the field the last 8 years. There’s still an unbelievable number of folks who keep getting up from the non-stop gut punches and driving to Lincoln, the bars or tuning in the next weekend for more of the same.
All that being said, if this hire is another fumble, I do question how long that can hold.
9. Prediction time: How do you see this one playing out? What’s your score prediction?
95% of the time, when I make this pick, I’ve been talking myself into ways we can pull it out or at least keep it under the spread. That being said, the defense is a complete s**t show on a Kevin Cosgrovian level and it appears nothing will change this weekend. Our love of hanging on to horrific DC’s is legendary - Cosgrove, Papuchis, Banker, Diaco, now Chins (7th last year in the Big 10 in yards and points given up and they acted like the Blackshirts are back, baby - and it was far and away his best season here)
(Deep calming breath)
Anyway, I think -11 is about right. We’ve got some damn good skill guys on offense, but I don’t believe for a minute the Sooners don’t have a better offense than Georgia Southern. Let’s say Sooners 47 Huskers 33 (If you guys get into the 60’s, my shock level will be 1.5 on a scale of 1-10)